NCIS Review: 101 Uses for a Dead Mole

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This week's Ducky and Palmer Show was a welcome change from the usual NCIS storyline. 

They were forced to take a slight "Detour" when the accomplices of the dead Navy mole kidnapped them in an effort to try and figure out where he hid a USB thumb drive that contained sensitive information. Ducky employed his knowledge of corpses to figure out a plan of escape and, after Palmer shot one of the spies in self-defense (only to find out he was wearing a bullet-proof vest), they were rescued by Gibbs, Tony, Ziva and McGee.

Palmer and Ducky Picture

I expected to be bored with this plot, but found myself intrigued instead. 

The idea of the two medical experts using their expertise to foil their kidnappers was inventive and different. Relying on the gastric acid from the corpse's stomach to burn through their leg irons was smart, as was their plan to escape the kidnappers by placing a cigarette butt with gauze in an oven in order to produce an explosion. 

I have no idea how the latter idea was supposed to work, but have to imagine some other body fluid from the corpse was key to that as well. This episode was pretty much a MacGyver entry almost all the way through: emptying the corpse's heinous stomach contents in order to clear the room so that Ducky and Palmer could hatch their plan was brilliant.

The same can be said the re-engineering of the body's hearing aid to create a sort of microphone, which was used to listen in on the spies' plans.

I thought the explanation for the mole's suicide was sketchy at best: he had gotten into a fight with the husband of a woman he was seducing in order to access military secrets, after which police began to notice him. 

So instead of meeting his handlers as planned, he stumbled over to a plumber's truck and chugged down some drain cleaner. Ziva's explanation that his secrets would otherwise be exposed seemed barely logical. If the authorities caught him and discovered that he was impersonating a Navy officer, and if he was then renditioned or sent to Guantanamo, perhaps his secrets would come to light. 

Those are big "ifs," though - certainly not threatening enough for a spy to want to kill himself. Wouldn't the more rational choice have been to figure out a way to pose enough lies to buy some time?

Ducky and Palmer's innovation was once again admirable when they concocted the idea of the spy having swallowed a gym locker key in order to protect his secret, knowing full well that the key was to Palmer's own gym locker. I laughed when I saw the female spy pull out Jimmy's jersey with his last name emblazoned on the back.  Good plot twist there.

Palmer is such a gentle soul too, isn't he? His plan to "take a stand" and use one of the kidnapper's guns to take down their enemies was engaged when he emptied the gun at one of them. His imminent PTSD was curtailed once he realized that his target had been saved by his bullet-proof vest. Sort of a win-lose dichotomy. ("Hey, I didn't kill anybody. Darn, he still wants to shoot us.")

Missing from the picture was Director Vance and Deputy Director Jerome Craig. Also, Tiva. No sparks there at all: I know. I checked.

The most compelling scene of the episode was Jimmy Palmer's adamant refusal to leave Ducky to the mercy of their kidnappers. 

Palmer: Doctor, I respect you more than anyone in the world, so please forgive me when I say - go to hell. I'm not leaving you. | permalink

What was your take on the episode? What did you think didn't work? Do you think we'll ever find out what country/ group was behind the mole? Did you buy the idea of the mole committing suicide to protect his secret? Did you find this episode boring or engaging? 

Note:  Our NCIS Round Table discussion is up!


Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (273 Votes)

Douglas Wolfe is a staff writer for TV Fanatic Follow him on Twitter



To the poster (s) who dislikes Tony and want him to grow up, all I can say is, it's not his fault if the writers have sacrificed his character in order to offer each episodes so called "humor" and to make all the other agents look superior. I love Tony, but for the last five years, the writers have demeaned the character almost beyond recognition in order to wank especially Ziva and Gibbs, but sometimes McGee as well. Lately we've been getting humor like last nights, where the "funny" point is that everyone hates Tony because he is the universal joke. Personally, I'd love it if they'd let Tony be more like he was in the DPB days, but it seems pretty obvious that he's the sacrificial character.


I did not see Tony acting like a fool. I saw Tony as being hurt that he was left out of the loop by Tim and his abilities to get concert tickets. Now before anyone gets mad......they ALL have been left out of the loop at one time or another and does NOT mean anything other then the writers need new ideas. Each and every character is important to the success of the show and they ALL have their quirks, problems, issues ect.......but isn't that what makes the world go round. lol


I agree Tony was made a fool again and what worse is it making Mcgee less likable by his fans


Good episode, something different and fun. Glad to see they gave an episode to Ducky and Palmer. The ending at Palmer's locker was super, well done. I want to meet McGee's father and mother one of these days. Yes we met his grandmother and every major players father so lets find out about Mcgee's problem with his dad.


why does gibbs ALLOW his Jr. agents to continue DISRESPECT their SFA?....not that LJG is setting a good example of showing his SFA respect, in front of them....head slaps is NOT a sign of's ABUSE. alisa


Why do people keep coming back to TIVA and Kate. I just don't get the whole concept of not moving on. This episode was awesome and I'm looking for comments on the show. Move on people, move on!!!!!!!!!


it was alright....i felt it dragged a bit...not sure what everyone is talking with tony.....however, i DO wish that TPTB would FINALLY make him act like a TRUE "SFA"....and NOT the joker all the time.....all they keep doing is re-enforcing tim,ziva and kate's thoughts of WHY IS HE SFA?....we need the WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER tony...we need the tony, that made gibbs WANT him at NCIS & ON HIS TEAM....and has KEPT HIM THERE. alisa


My favourite line was Palmer's "Doctor Mallard, have you been working out?" while they were dashing through the woods. It's lucky that in a past incarnation Ducky/Ilya was a Russian spy (The Man From Uncle series for all you people under forty-five years old. Loved it that Ducky & Palmer used brains & chemistry to outwit the bad guys & girl.


@Robin Roderick
I like Kate. And I like Ziva. So I wouldn't know. Just don't mention that to Ziva lovers or they'll go into rant mode. lol! @Boyd Chowder
May I ask why you are commenting of an episode of a show you dumped a long time ago. To no one in particular:
I don't care if Tony plays the class clown. As long as he gets the job done (Which he does), then what's wrong with being comic relief?


It was such a treat to have a Ducky, Palmer episode. They are not regular agents so no they don't handle guns normally but used what they do know to escape and it was very well done.
As for Tony, I think he was hurt that McGee didn't offer him ticket privileges, but Tony would make his remarks in a condecending way rather than feeling slighted. I like the banter between him and McGee and there are times when McGee stands up for himself and gets the last word.
Love this show.

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NCIS Season 10 Episode 16 Quotes

Palmer: Oh my God.
Ducky: What?
Palmer: I just realized that I missed my nine-month wedding anniversary. Breena's going to kill me.
Ducky: You do know I have a heart condition.

Doctor, I respect you more than anyone in the world, so please forgive me when I say - go to hell. I'm not leaving you.